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Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Psychology and History

Course Code
Michelle Hilscher

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C85: History of Psychology
Chapter 1: Psychology and History
Historiography- the study of the variety of ways in which historians have written history.
Historiographers examine the variety of ways in which historians have written history.
The most influential modern history of psychology was written by Edwin G. Boring.
Boring’s history ‘continues to dominate the historiography of psychology (with some
His history concerned itself primarily with the growth of the scientific, experimental side of
psychology since the 19th c.
Person or Zeitgeist?
Boring recognized two approaches to history:
1. (PERSON) emphasized the role of the creative individual in moving history along; on this
account the history of psychology is primarily the stories of those outstanding people who have
contributed to it and changed it by doing so.
2. (ZEITGEIST) related to the cultural context within which it takes place. Aka “spirit of the times; ‘prevailing
ideologies and/or the socioeconomic situation of the period’ play in shaping ideas.
Ixion’s Wheel or Jacob’s Ladder?
There are other constructs that have been used to represent historical processes.
The distinguished historian Frank Manuel called on such construct the progressive vs the cyclical.
Manual suggested that Ixion and Jacob be taken as personifications of this polarity.
Ixion was a figure in ancient Greek mythology who was condemned to rotate forever on a
wheel of fire (cyclical).
In the bible, Jacob dreamed that there was a ladder set up on earth and the top of it reached to
heaven (progressive).
Psychology may not always get better and better; sometimes it is cyclical.
It is entirely possible that psychology both progressive and cyclical – ideas may keep getting rediscovered, but at
the same time those ideas may be understood in progressively more sophisticated ways.
The New History of Psychology
New history of psychology- the view that the science of psychology has been influenced by subjective as well as
objective factors Laurel Furomoto
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He drew attention to philosophers and historians of science whose work was responsible for a
thoroughgoing reconsideration of the nature of these disciplines.
Research methods towards the end of the 20th c. tended to emphasize the complexity of the research process more
than had been the case in earlier discussions.
There was an acknowledgement that the facts may notspeak for themselves’, but nay need to be understood from
within a particular theoretical framework.
Many historians and philosophers of science have argued that the process of scientific inquiry contains a
subjective aspect.
Among the most influential of these scholars was Thomas Kuhn
In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions after reviewing the historical development of
established sciences such as physics, Kuhn concluded that the development of these disciplines had
not been smooth.
scientific disciplines appeared to develop discontinuously – during long periods almost all
workers in a discipline had the same beliefs about them methods, data, and theory that were
appropriate for the discipline
The set of fundamental beliefs that guide workers in a scientific discipline is called a paradigm
revolutionary periods occur in which a new paradigm is emerging and an old paradigm is being overthrown
Kuhn argued that paradigms shape the scientists view of the world
There can be paradigm clashes in which fundamentally different ways of interpreting the data
Conflicting interpretations of the same data are entirely possible, perhaps even inevitable.
Figure 1.2 (page 5 in textbook ):
Each one of these 4 triangles represents four different psychological theories; each attempts to explain a different
range of data, and no single theory explains all the data.
The various theories overlap somewhat with respect to phenomena they attempt to explain, but each theory also
tends to specialize in certain phenomena and to neglect others.
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